On Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945, American troops landed on Okinawa and began their 82-day fight to secure the island. For the Allies, capturing Okinawa was a crucial part of their plan to invade mainland Japan. For the Japanese, holding on to Okinawa was crucial to their ability to defend the mainland. And trapped between the two opposing forces were the Okinawan people.
The Battle of Okinawa was the largest amphibious landing in the Pacific theater during WWII. However, U.S. troops remained unopposed as they landed onto the beaches. Having made use of Okinawa’s rugged terrain, setting up defense lines among dense foliage, hills, caves, and trees, the Japanese Army had been ordered to watch and wait for the Americans. In the days after the initial landing, Marine and Army ground forces began to make their way inland. What followed was the deadliest fight of the Pacific island campaign.
The Battle of Okinawa lasted until June 22, 1945, when the island was finally declared secured. In terms of casualties, according to the National WWII Museum:
“Victory at Okinawa cost more than 49,000 American casualties, including about 12,000 deaths. Among the dead was the Tenth Army’s commander, Lieutenant General Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr., killed on June 18 by a sniper during the final offensive. He was the highest ranking American general killed in action during World War II. About 90,000 Japanese combatants died in the fighting, but deaths among Okinawan civilians may have reached 150,000.”
April 1, 2020 marked the 75th anniversary of the landing on Okinawa. In remembrance, the Unwritten Record presents Marine photographs documenting the Battle of Okinawa.
*For additional World War II Marine photographs taken on Okinawa, please visit our catalog here, where you can view and download digitized images.*
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PUBLICATION OF PHOTOGRAPHS FURNISHED BY THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES STILL PICTURE BRANCH-RRSS
Generally, copies of photographic records held by the National Archives may be published without special permission or additional fees. The National Archives does not grant exclusive or non-exclusive publication privileges. Copies of Federal records, as part of the public domain, are equally available to all. A small percentage of photographs in our holdings are or may be subject to copyright restrictions. The National Archives does not confirm the copyright status of photographs but will provide any information known about said status. It is the user’s responsibility to obtain all necessary clearances. Any use of these items is made at the researcher’s or purchaser’s own risk.
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*Because so many of our requests for information cite credits and captions that appear in published works, the inclusion of a photo number in hard copy and electronic publications is of great assistance to both us and the public.
Examples of preferred credit lines are as follows:
- National Archives photo no. 80-G-32500
- Credit National Archives (photo no. 306-NT-186000)
- Courtesy National Archives, photo no. 26-G-3422
- National Archives (111-SC-202199)
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